State of the art research


A state of the art search can be commissioned both internally and externally. Both variants have advantages and disadvantages.
We answer how the state of the art is defined in this article.

PRO- Tools such as GOOGLE PATENTS provide a cost-effective overview- The researcher's experience usually ensures reliable results
- Professionally documented search process using a search table
- Use of paid tools & databases
CONTRA- Quality of results strongly dependent on the skills of the researching employee- Possibly higher costs

Does the result serve as a basis for important decisions? 
It should be noted that state of the art searches only ever show part of the result set. In other words, the search result usually does not contain 100% hits.

The aim of the researcher is to identify as many relevant documents as possible within the given budget and time frame.
It is therefore advisable to listen to the researcher's assessment of the results wherever possible. 

In addition, the results of two searchers on the same topic usually differ. This is due to the fact that prior art searches are an iterative process that is essentially characterised by the searcher.

In order to achieve particularly reliable results, it can therefore be useful to commission searches in parallel (from different searchers).

Scope of the search

Before the actual research begins, the following points should be discussed:

  • Technical area
  • Technical problem, if applicable
  • Characteristics required, if applicable
  • If applicable, known applicants / inventors / patents
  • Which databases & sources
  • Retrospective
  • General scope

All points are included in the research assignment. This framework can - in consultation with the client - be adapted at a later date if circumstances so require.   

Research procedure


  • Clarifying discussion regarding research modalities and scope (see above)


  • Combination of different search strategies
  • Use of different tools and databases
  • Documentation in a search table
  • Consultation with client if necessary


  • Assessment of the search strategy (completeness, correspondence with the research question)
  • Final discussion / presentation / explanation of the results 

Do you have further questions or would you like to commission a search?

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Further information
DPMA - PDF: Prior art search on the Internet
Patent Act - Section 3 PatG (1) & (2) - Definition: Prior art

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